Bosun’s Chair

I left me Irish home one day,
To make me fortune in the USA,
I had no money to pay me fare
So I worked me passage in the bosun’s chair.
We sailed from Cork on the morning tide,
In an old tramp steamer with rusty sides,
The mate says “Paddy” when he sees me there,
“You’d better get acquainted with the bosun’s chair”.
Ch.Paddy chip, keep chippin’ ‘till the long trips through,
To be sure that hammer makes an awful clammer;
The flakes fly here and the flakes fly there,
When you go rust chippin’ in the bosun’s chair.

On a plank hung over the starboard rail,
He set me a chippin’ at the rusty scale,
Me poor heart sank to dark despair
When I first clapped eyes upon the bosun’s chair.
The plank swung too, and the plank swung fro’,
With me backside a-soaking from the sea below,
Of the palpitations sure I had me share
‘Til I got the measure of the bosun’s chair.
Each day I’d chip ‘til the twilight fell,
And me eyes turned redder than the pits of hell,
Sure if Father O’Farrell could have seen me there
He’d have sworn ‘twas the devil on the bosun’s chair.
As each day was counted off upon me hand
I was one day closer to the Promised Land,
As the oxide paint made a fine repair to the plates
I’d hammered from the bosun’s chair.

Well I did the job as well as I could do
And the old ship started looking good as new,
And the mate says Paddy sure you’ve got the flair,
For the old rust chippin’ and the bosun’s chair.
When at last we landed in Baltimore,
With a dollar from the skipper sure I stepped ashore,
You can ship, says he any time you care,
There’s a welcome a-waitin’ in the bosun’s chair.

These days they say it’s got a lot less hard,
And each rust chipper has a union card;
With the mask and the goggles and the gloves to wear,
And the safety harness in the bosun’s chair.
When I’ve made my fortune I’ll be dressed in style,
For the homeward journey to the Emerald Isle
But there’s no forgetting how I first got there,
With me chippin’ hammer in the bosun’s chair

© Bob Watson 2000


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